By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Senator Francis Pangilinan has called for an inquiry into the alleged misencounter between police and army personnel recently in Jolo, Sulu that led to the death of four intelligence operatives not only to shed light on the incident but to give justice to the victims.
“An independent and impartial investigation will help bring out the truth so that the victims and their families find justice,” he said.
“Nakakabahala ang balitang ito. Ngayon pa lang na hindi pa batas ang anti-terror bill, may nangyayari nang ganito. Ano na lang ang laban ng ordinaryong tao?” said Pangilinan.
Pangilinan noted at least two versions of the incident coming from the military and police.
The first version claimed that the slain four Army intelligence men—including a major and a captain—were supposedly trying to locate a suspected foreign suicide bomber believed to be with the local Abu Sayyaf Group when their vehicle was stopped at a police checkpoint in Jolo.
Despite identifying themselves and clarifying that they were not hostile forces, police personnel still fired at them.
Meanwhile, the other version from the police report narrates that Jolo policemen were on patrol with anti-illegal drug agents in Barangay Bus-Bus when they spotted an SUV with four armed men, who later fled.
Before the men could pull the trigger, the police shot at them in defense.
“This incident is disturbing because it appears that the police are quick in pulling the trigger without careful judgment. If they can do this to their fellow uniformed men, how much more to the ordinary civilians who are unarmed and defenseless?” said Pangilinan.
Amid the encounter, the senator also called on military and police ground commanders to rein in their men to preserve peace and avert escalation of tension between the armed personnel.
“We should be going after the common enemy—terrorists, drug lords, armed groups, and in this time of the pandemic, COVID—not against each other,” he added.